ZEPHYRHILLS — River Ridge coach Ernie Beck told his team to stay patient at the plate when the Royal Knights trailed Zephyrhills by two going into the top of the seventh.
And the reward for their patience?
A 9-4 comeback victory over the Bulldogs on Friday night. The Knights notched five hits, forced three walks and scored seven runs in the seventh.
"Finally; it took seven innings," Beck said of his players being patient at the plate. "I'm yelling at them because of that fact that they have time to take a look at a pitch. If the girls were down 10-0 they would do the same thing, and that's what I love about this team is they never quit."
After Zephyrhills (12-5) tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs took a 3-1 lead on a double by Brianna Blanyar that scored Lauren Pasquale (seven strikeouts). Blanyar later scored on a throwing error.
River Ridge (16-1) cut the lead to one in the fifth on a single by Marissa Smeltz that scored Kat Femino, but Zephyrhills added a run in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead.
The Knights kept their composure going into the seventh inning, and Femino's leadoff single was just the start of things to come. Pasquale was relieved by sophomore Emily Kiedaisch with the bases loaded and with one out River Ridge's Madison Morris scored on a fielder's choice, giving the Knights a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish.
River Ridge starter Lakyn Shull improved to 11-0 and went seven innings, striking out five.
"We just missed a lot of routine plays," Zephyrhills coach Craig Milburn said. "The positive is that we hit tonight, and that is something that we have been lacking is hitting."